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Origins of the Healthy Communities Movement and the OHCCOrigins of the Healthy Communities Movement and the OHCC

The healthy city or healthy communities concept is not new. Its origins can be traced to the 19th century public health movement, and such organizations as the Health of Towns Association in Britain. As Jessie Parfit, author of a history of health in Oxford, England from 1770 to 1974, remarked:

“Many would be surprised to learn that the greatest contribution to the health of the nation over the past 150 years was made, not by doctors or hospitals, but by local government.”

In a 1984 one-day workshop entitled Healthy Toronto 2000, Trevor Hancock and Leonard Duhl proposed a model of a Healthy Community. This motivated the World Health Organization (WHO) to initiate its Healthy Cities Project. The Healthy Cities or Healthy Communities movement includes thousands of networks, projects and other initiatives worldwide, 

In Ontario, the Healthy Communities Coalition grew out of discussions between Dr. Trevor Hancock and representatives of the Ontario Landscape Architects Association in 1986. These discussions led to the formation of a broad coalition of provincial associations interested in promoting Healthy Communities.

The Coalition continued as an informal group until 1990/91, when it published a study of Healthy Communities initiatives across Ontario, with funding from the Ministry of Health. This report became the basis for a proposal and request for funding to develop a provincial secretariat and create regional support systems. In 1993, the Ministry announced a three year funding package for the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. This funding allowed OHCC to set up a Secretariat to provide a broad range of services and resources to help local Healthy Communities to become established and flourish.

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